Monday, June 29, 2009


Which should you say? Everyone brought his notebook;
Everyone brought her notebook;
Everyone brought his or her notebook;
Everyone brought their notebook;
Everyone brought their notebooks.
Folks, this point is controversial and rather highly emotionally charged. Of the choices, I prefer the first. With the push of the ERA, I might be in for some trouble from the ladies. The first would certainly be appropriate at an all-boys school. Likewise, the second would work for an exclusively female institution or group. I don't find the third to be wrong, but it sounds stuffy. I don't care for the fourth entry because the number changes from singular to plural. The fifth stresses the confusion, because it sounds as though each had several notebooks. Again, I like the generic use of "his" in this situation. I suggest, however, a practical solution that can often be employed in the above situation. Say, "All brought their notebooks." That's right--use the consistent plural when possible. I do realize that the last example opens itself to the thought that some students did indeed possess more than one notebook, but generally there should be no harm in that allowance.

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